What does reflexology research show?

reflexology-imageRelexology Research on FeetResearch has shown the specific techniques of reflexology to be effective and beneficial in many ways, impacting a variety of physical and psychological concerns. This discussion notes results gathered from year-long research project of 170 reflexology studies from 21 countries with findings published in Evidence-Based Reflexology Research for Health Professionals and Researchers (Kunz and Kunz, 2008, RRP Press, ebook, 224 pages). The studies were selected among those available because the abstract or full study information included an indication of dosing—how much reflexology work lead to reported results. This included information about the frequency (how often) and/or duration (how long) of technique application. They, thus, met the major goals of this research—assessing reflexology research to determine parameters for success or failure with reflexology technique application in reference to dosing information. Assessment of the 170 studies showed nine areas of effectiveness for reflexology application: relaxation, pain reduction, ameliorating of health concerns, improvement in blood flow, aid to post operative recovery, impacts physiological measures such as blood pressure, enhances medical care, eases pregnancy, delivery and post-partum effects, benefits mental health, eases pregnancy, delivery and post-partum effects and complements cancer care.

More for the reflexology research:

Reflexology reduces pain
reflexology-imageReflexology reduction is a significant result of reflexology work. Twenty-seven studies show positive outcomes for reflexology work ranging from “significant difference in” pain to “reduction in” pain. Of note is the broad range of individuals whose pain is impacted by reflexology work. Included are individuals of all ages and health states: birthing mothers, menstruating women, phantom limb pain sufferers, lower back pain sufferers, kidney stone patients, senior citizens and individuals with pain resulting from surgery. Such a range speaks of impact on an underlying mechanism at work.

Reflexology creates relaxation
Research measuring brain activity by EEG shows from the moment the reflexologist’s hands start their work, the relaxation begins. Altogether, 24 studies demonstrate reflexology’s relaxation effects. Multiple studies using a variety of measurements show that reflexology relaxes the body. The stimulation of reflexology’s pressure techniques creates change in the body’s basic level of tension as demonstrated by research using measurement of: brain waves (EEG), blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate, and anxiety. One study of a single session noted that reflexology has a “… powerful anxiety-reduction effect ….”

Reflexology aids post-operative recovery
The value of reflexology for patients post-surgically is demonstrated by fifteen studies conducted in eight countries. As reported in Medical Applications of Reflexology: Findings in Research about Post-operative Care, Maternity Care and Cancer Care (Kunz and Kunz, 2011), patient pain, anxiety and recovery are all aided by the application of reflexology post-operatively. Researchers note the value of reflexology post surgically: speeding recovery time; adding to nursing interventions to ease pain when medication alone is not enough as well as easing anxiety, common in post-surgical patients. In addition to quality of life for patients, such improvements have financial consequences: earlier discharge from the hospital as gastro-intestinal and urinary functions return earlier as well as savings in the lessened use of pain medication. The studies about the post-operative effects of reflexology work noted here were conducted in: China (6), Austria (3), Iran (1), UK (1), Korea (1), Taiwan (1), Thailand (2), and India (1).

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